Case Study: Jalil*

Jalil is an 11-year-old boy from the Ghazni province in Afghanistan. He fled to Australia with his mother and 4 siblings on a Special Humanitarian visa. Jalil’s father was killed in the conflict when the Taliban took over Kabul. The family were devastated by his death, and this continues to have significant impacts. 

Now living in metropolitan Melbourne, the family are juggling multiple priorities as they settle into life in Australia. Mum speaks Dari but she cannot read or write in her native language as she never had the opportunity to go to school. She doesn’t speak any English but is keen to learn. In Afghanistan, she stayed home lox41oking after the kids, while her husband earned income for the family. Mum is finding it very challenging to cope without her husband beside her, and she struggles to find the time to both look after the children and have time for herself. She has some friends from the same community who assist her on a day-to-day basis, but it doesn’t seem to be enough to support the family in settling. As the eldest child in the family, Jalil does what he can to help mum with looking after the house and his siblings.  

With the assistance of a community friend, Jalil and his siblings have been admitted to a local primary school. They were not able to secure a place at the local English Language School as the school was at capacity at the time of their arrival. 

While in Afghanistan, Jalil attended primary school where he developed good skills in reading and writing in Dari. Unfortunately, he had to leave the school due to the security situation in the area. His parents were keen for him to continue his education and managed to enrol Jalil at a small English Language Coaching Centre, where Jalil learned some basics of English. At times, these sessions were also disrupted due to security concerns, or when Jalil’s parents were unable to afford the fees.   

Now attending the local primary school in Melbourne, Jalil seems to be settling in well, and his teacher notices that he enjoys group work but finds working quietly on individual tasks challenging. He also struggles to complete homework. To help with his English language development, Jalil attends the EAL support program for new arrivals in school, however he doesn’t have access to a Multicultural Education Aide (MEA) in class. During breaks, Jalil plays soccer with his friends and wants to join a team. He misses playing soccer with his old friends Abdul and Hamid on the streets of Ghazni and he often wonders if they were able to get out of Kabul safely.  

Even though Jalil has made some Dari speaking friends in his new class, there are other students who make him feel uneasy by saying disparaging things like, “How is it even difficult?” or “You won’t be able to do this, Jalil”. Most of the time, he feels too anxious to give the activities a go as he fears being embarrassed in front of them as he tries speaking in English. Jalil notices these same students cause most of the disruptions in the classroom, and that the teacher seems to spend a lot of time managing their behaviour. 

At times, Jalil feels overwhelmed and anxious as he tries help his mum and siblings, while trying to adjust himself to school. He often cries for his father who he misses a lot. Sometimes when it’s quiet at night, or when everyone is working on tasks quietly in class, Jalil has a flashback of what happened to his dad. The overwhelming grief makes him feel helpless and hopeless. To make himself feel better, Jalil reads, or sketches in an art book that was given to him by his favourite teacher.  

*This fictional Case Study is an amalgamation of real characters and scenarios to facilitate professional learning.